Peterborough Repair Cafe Helps to Reduce Waste and Fight Climate Change

By Geoffrey Daw

You know that favorite shirt of yours with the missing button and torn seam? Or that coffee grinder that is still perfectly good but seems to be jammed? You hate to throw them out because they’re still in good shape and have lots of life in them and you don’t want to add more junk to the landfill. You may not have the tools or time or skill to fix them so what do you do? Well the Peterborough Repair Cafe has the answer. 

Repair Cafe at Peterborough Square

The Repair Cafe movement was started in 2009 in Amsterdam Denmark by Martine Postma. Their mandate was to have local groups of skilled repairers who would restore items for no charge, giving them a longer life, and keeping them out of landfills. There are now over 2500 Repair Cafes globally in Germany, France, Canada, the US, and many other countries. We are fortunate to have our very own here in Peterborough.  

The Repair Cafe organization also supports the right to repair laws/legislation in different countries. Many products are purposely designed so that repairing them may be difficult or impossible. Right to repair laws aim to mandate that companies must produce products that can be repaired when possible. This will result in less garbage, a cleaner environment, and will help us to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gasses.

I spoke with Emily Straka, who is a member of the Peterborough Repair Cafe, about its start and how it is helping people in the Peterborough area fix their belongings. Emily first joined the Peterborough Repair Cafe just as it was starting in 2014. 

Early on, the Repair Cafe hosted events for repair one Saturday per month and eventually their location was at The Spill on George Street. When the pandemic hit they shut down for a couple of years. The Spill was no longer in business post-pandemic, so the Repair Cafe ran from other locations such as Dreams with Beans, the Peterborough Library, the YMCA, and Sadlier House. 

Emily Straka at work on a repair

The Peterborough Repair Cafe has skilled volunteers who can sew, fix small appliances, repair electronics and do other general repairs. At a typical Saturday Repair Cafe, on the third Saturday of each month, there might be 80 or more people dropping by with items in need of repair. Many of these can be restored by one of the cafe’s experts. Occasionally, items are not fixable or repairs are more time consuming or complex, in which case the person may be referred to a professional who owns a business which can handle more complex repairs. 

All the repairs are done free of charge but donations are welcome to help support the Repair Cafe. This enables them to keep a supply of some common parts and special tools that are required for some of their work.

Repair Cafe volunteer working on a broken hair dryer.

The key goals for the Repair Cafe are to extend the life of many items that are still usable and/or beloved for a very low cost, and reduce the amount of garbage in our landfills and encourage/ educate/ empower  visitors to make simple repairs with more confidence and knowledge. This is a tremendous service to our community and to our environment. Emily told me that in the first 4 months of 2024 they have had 85 items come in for repair and they were able to repair 63 of those and 15 were diagnosed for future repairs. These are impressive results. 

So before you throw out your busted toaster or that piece of jewelry with the broken clasp, think about bringing it to the Peterborough Repair Cafe to see if it can be fixed. You will save some money, repair an item that you cherish, and reduce the amount of stuff ending up in our landfills. 
Want to find out when the next Repair Cafe is, see their Facebook Page at or contact

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